10. Capitalist corporations suffer from a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and are rewarded by shareholders for acting that way. If corporations could be sent to a criminal psychologist’s office they’d be diagnosed as psychopaths and locked away forever.
9. Capitalism encourages greed. But greed is only good for capitalists. For normal people it is anti-social and soul destroying, not to mention very bad for our communities, which rely on altruism, compassion and a generalized concern for others.
8. Capitalism is a system of minority privilege and class rule based on the private ownership of means of livelihood. This gives a few rich people the power to buy and sell jobs, which means they can build or destroy entire communities that depend on those jobs.
7. Capitalists praise freedom and individualism, but they destroy freedom and individualism for everyone but themselves. The vast majority of us who work for a living are daily asked to uncritically follow orders, to act as if we are machines, and limit our creativity to what profits our bosses.
6. Capitalists denigrate cooperation and collectivism, but create mass production processes that rely on both from workers. Their system requires us to be cogs in a giant profit-making machine, but because they fear the power this gives us we are told working together for our own interests is illegitimate and bad. Thus capitalists undermine unions and other organizations that encourage workers to cooperate with each other and act collectively.
5. Capitalism requires the largest propaganda system the world has ever known to convince us it is the only system possible. It turns people into consumers through advertising, marketing, entertainment and even so-called news. Millions around the world are employed to use their creativity to twist our feelings of love, desire, human solidarity and fairness into tools of manipulation, so that ever more profits can flow into the hands of a tiny minority.
4. Capitalism is a system in which the principle of one dollar, one vote, dominates that of one person, one vote. Those who own the most shares (bought with their dollars) control giant corporations, many of which are more powerful than all but a few governments. Rich people also use their money to dominate the elections that are supposed to give us all one, equal vote. Under capitalism those with the most money are entitled to the most goods and services as well as the most say in directing our governments and our economy.
3. Capitalism proclaims the virtue of naked self-interest, but self-interest without regard for morality, ecology or common sense leads to environmental degradation, destruction of indigenous communities, colonialism, war and other forms of mass destruction. Self-interest leads capitalists to seek profit absolutely everywhere, regardless of the damage done to other people and the health of the planet’s ecosystem. Self-interest leads capitalists to destroy any rival economic system or way of thinking (such as indigenous communal land use and respect for nature) that can be a barrier to their endless quest for profit.
2. Capitalism is not a friend to democracy but ultimately its enemy. When pushed, capitalists choose capitalism over democracy. If people use democracy to weaken the power of capitalists the rich and powerful turn to various forms of fascism in order to keep their privileges.
1. Capitalism is a cancer taking over our planet. Capitalists make profits from global warming, from destroying our oceans, from pumping ever more chemicals into the atmosphere and from patenting everything they can, including life itself. Only by getting rid of capitalism can we rescue our environment.
It’s a very big Internet, so you can be forgiven if you’ve missed David Simon’s absolutely incendiary op ed ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’ that was published on The Guardian’s website on December 7th. But if you’re reading this sentence, you no longer have an excuse and need to click over to said essay NOW and return here after you’ve read it.
You’ll thank me. Trust me, you’ll be smarter after you’ve read it. Go. Now. If there is anything worth your time, it’s THIS. Who wants to be ignorant? Not you, right?NOW.
In the days since it was published, Simon’s essay has turned into a shot heard ‘round the world. In my opinion it’s the most incredibly articulate, passionately argued, well-thought out meditation on America since, I dunno, something Mark Twain (or Kurt Vonnegut) wrote. I believe David Simon’s words to be of historical importance, that is to say future historians will read his essay in an effort to try to understand HOW the American people let it get THIS BAD and still allowed those responsible to continue to operate exactly as they had before. You’d think the economy crashing might have ushered in some change. And it has: Bad for the common man, but great for the capital-hoarding elites.
As Simon rhetorically asks—I’m paraphrasing here—“How much longer until the entire shithouse goes up in flames?”
David Simon’s words have incredible power. The kind of power that educates people, changes minds and makes them do something. It needs to be passed on and on and on until everyone has read it, even your idiot teabagger Fox News-watching Uncle Dumbshit. Especially him.
If you’ve already read Simon’s piece, what you may not be aware of (and the YouTube views thus far would seem to bear this out) is that the essay is actually an edited version of an extraordinary speech that The Wire creator gave in Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Simon spoke for about 30 minutes and then there was an extended Q&A beyond.
Watch this and then pass it on. On and on and on. He’s not exactly offering much of a prescription here—that’s not his goal—but the diagnosis is spot on…
Great reporting in the New York Times today from Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Stephanie Clifford about an increasingly annoying, not to mention inherently immoral, problem faced by the lowest income American workers.
In an effort to save money, many businesses with lower paid workers, such as fast food franchises and retail chains, are resorting to paying workers with prepaid debit cards that often come with extremely hefty fees (like $1.75 each time you make a withdrawal at an ATM or a $7 penalty for not spending your own money before a specified date). Just getting a regular check or direct deposit at a bank isn’t even an option anymore for some workers, as well as many people on public assistance programs. Some states, like California, put unemployment insurance benefits on prepaid ATM cards subject to these sorts of fees also.
As Silver-Greenberg and Clifford point out, these charges just to get at your own money can often be so onerous as to mean that the workers who are paid this way end up making less than the minimum wage. As an increasing number of consumer attorneys, state and Federal regulators and of course the workers themselves are starting to realize, these “fees,” to put it in plainer English, amount to legal confiscation:
Taco Bell, Walgreen and Wal-Mart are among the dozens of well-known companies that offer prepaid cards to their workers; the cards are particularly popular with retailers and restaurants. And they are quickly gaining momentum. In 2012, $34 billion was loaded onto 4.6 million active payroll cards, according to the research firm Aite Group. Aite said it expected that to reach $68.9 billion and 10.8 million cards by 2017.
Companies and card issuers, which include Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, say the cards are cheaper and more efficient than checks — a calculator on Visa’s Web site estimates that a company with 500 workers could save $21,000 a year by switching from checks to payroll cards. On its Web site, Citigroup trumpets how the cards “guarantee pay on time to all employees.”
GOOD TIMES! And hey, now that $21,000 AND THEN SOME can get pushed onto the worker’s backs and off the corporation’s bottom line! You have to wonder if Taco Bell, Walgreens and Wal-Mart are skimming micro-payment kickbacks every time one of these cards is swiped. It’s one thing for a company with 500 employees, imagine the kinds of “arrangements” that are in place between the big banks and these mega-corporations.
Many low income Americans do not have bank accounts at all, but the “innovation” of the payroll ATM cards effectively allows the big banks to pick their pockets anyway, applying a surcharge—let’s call it a “Capitalist free market tax” shall we?—to give people access to their own money. In poorer rural communities where the only ATMs might be in a mini-mart or liquor store, the fees would also be charged by the ATM provider (and split with the owner of the store). All in all, you gotta hand it to them, it’s a damned clever, if outrageously morally reprehensible, way for the banks to make up for all those various gravy-trains that the Dodd-Frank legislation effectively ended:
For banks that are looking to recoup billions of dollars in lost income from a spate of recent limits on debit and credit card fees, issuing payroll cards can be lucrative — the products were largely untouched by recent financial regulations. As a result, some of the nation’s largest banks are expanding into the business, banking analysts say.
The lack of regulation in the payroll card market, while alluring for some of the issuers, can potentially leave cardholders swimming in fees. Take the example of inactivity fees that penalize customers for infrequently using their cards. The Federal Reserve has banned such fees for credit and debit cards, but no protections exist on prepaid cards. Cards used by more than two dozen major retailers have inactivity fees of $7 or more, according to a review of agreements.
Some employees can also be hit with $25 overdraft fees, called “balance protection,” on some of the prepaid cards. Under the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, banks with more than $10 billion in assets are barred from levying overdraft fees on customers’ checking accounts.
That’s great if you’ve got enough money to actually put into a checking account, but if you’re already waking up every morning on the wrong side of capitalism, these vampires can legally bleed you dry and clearly have every intention of just taking whatever they can.
This is a guest post by New Delhi-based social media consultant, Kartik Dayanand.
“We’re getting closer to a world where technology takes care of the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so that you can get on with what makes you happiest… living and loving. It’s an exciting time to be at Google.”
These are the concluding lines of a recent announcement by the CEO of Google, Larry Page. It sounds great: technology will make our lives easier and we don’t have to work hard anymore. The machines, or rather ‘technology,’ they say will run our world. But…
I think we’e in the middle of an unfolding horror story!
It can’t simply be some bizarre coincidence, can it, that as we scale ever higher peaks of technological innovation, the USA is going through its worst recession in 97 years? The story is not too different in Europe and most of the rest of the world; there must be something seriously wrong somewhere. Stands to reason, right?
Plenty of words have been written on the topic of machines taking away jobs from humans, and the twin threat of outsourcing, but this time things are different, really different. They are so different that…
I have no hesitation in saying that the world is on the verge of screwing itself in a spectacular fashion!
Here is the proof…
The invisible robots
As a kid I used to imagine a future where robots would do things for us. That day has arrived but these robots don’t look like anything I imagined they would as a child. They don’t have arms or legs, they are computers and smartphones with the Internet acting as their brains. The talk about machines replacing humans is an age old story and we have managed pretty well so far, but this time things are different for two reasons: Distribution and Convergence!
Since the Industrial Revolution, even before, machines have replaced human jobs but they never had this ability to multiply and spread across the global with almost zero additional costs through the Internet. Take the case of the mailman vs email or traditional books vs Kindle books. In the later case, it costs next to nothing to distribute something that used to take time and effort, printing, warehousing, shipping and retail outlets in the past. Time and effort that was spent by real people doing real jobs which are simply not necessary anymore.
From bank clerks to airline ticketing attendants, there are many classes of jobs that are going extinct. Read this article: A look at jobs replaced by technology. Where do all these people go now?
But isn’t capitalism, to a certain extent supposed to be “destructive”? Isn’t that where innovation comes from? In the battle between man and machine there is an old argument that goes instead of a candle we now have light bulbs and in place of a horse and carriage we have cars, so “disruption” is good. But now we are faced with a new problem: Convergence.
Due to convergence of technologies, multiple tasks are now doable with but a single device. The smartphone and tablet are effectively destroying the calculator, camera, flashlight, alarm clock, wrist watch, notepad, audio player and multiple other industries. I am not merely talking about the things one can do via the Internet for the scale of disruption is unimaginable. Real people were making those products. They are now not needed anymore. And it’s not merely job loss, the products themselves won’t exist anymore.
And who manufactures these new converged products?
Most probably some company like Foxconn in China where Apple and many other companies build their products at dead cheap rates. Almost none of those manufacturing jobs are in the USA or anyplace in Europe. No wonder the Eurozone is in tatters right now, Greece is at 60% unemployment and Spain has 55% of its youth between the ages of 18 and 25 unemployed right now; forget manufacturing, they might never ever get a job that involves soft skills, all thanks to outsourcing.
Ousted by outsourcing
Outsourcing, while taking away jobs from many, has provided employment to millions in another part of the globe. This led to an increase in earning potential as well as spending capacity for millions who could now aspire to “things” and a lifestyle unimaginable earlier. New doors have opened where none existed earlier. However, there are dangerous pitfalls on this side too. There are already two main patterns one can notice emerging– Obsolescence and Cannibalism.
All the pitfalls of disruptive technology apply here too. You can never say when a particular piece of technology or service will become obsolete. The skills that we learn today might not be needed tomorrow; this applies to software professionals who are dime a dozen out there specializing in skills that could be without economic value tomorrow.
Very few people specialize in “real” skills anymore, right from a commerce graduate to a science student to a mechanical, civil or chemical engineer; all want to become Software-IT Professionals.That’s where the easy moolah is. Those who continue in the pursuit of conventional professions often find themselves in a unique fix, not able to compete with their counterparts in the IT industry in terms of fat paychecks. But there is an even bigger issue in play here, cannibalism.
In the modern world of outsourcing, cannibalism is a rampant practice. No one is eating anyone else alive but everyone is eating away at everyone else’s jobs.
Organizations are always looking at doing things the fastest and cheapest way. They achieve it by employing smarter technology, but where manpower is still essential they are always on the lookout for a cheaper option that can accomplish the same task in a shorter time-frame—the primary reason why outsourcing exists in the first place. Why bothering hiring and paying an experienced hand when a trainee will suffice?
For a country like India, that boasts of a massive youth population that is ready to be employed, the future can be quite unsettling. It is a win-win situation for the bosses, but the same can’t be said for the employees as job security simply does not exist anymore.
So basically, technology and outsourcing are screwing the west and the rest are hell bent on screwing themselves . To put it simply…
The West is already screwed and the rest are hellbent on screwing themselves by cannibalising themselves to obsolescence
So what is the solution?
James Altucher, one of the most exciting writers I have come across online recently, wrote a post on TechCrunch titled “10 reasons why 2013 will be the year you quit your job.” In it Altucher advises his readers to turn into entrepreneurs to save themselves. He makes some terrific points to support his case, but I wonder if it’s realistic to expect that everyone can become an entrepreneur? Someone has to be at the bottom of the foodchain and even if someone dares to do something on his own, the big daddies will give them sleepless nights. Also in an open economy where everyone has equal opportunities, it is the big corporations that have the maximum leverage. Everyone else is just part of the crowd.
Take the case of movies. The top hits today make more money than ever while the bottom is a horror story with the vast majority of films not even finding any avenues of release or exhibition; it is a problem of plenty. It is the same with businesses and tech start ups. The big corps capture the bulk of the market and the smaller fish are in the game only to be hooked or to be eaten by the biggies. No wonder income inequalities are growing wider across the globe between the rich and the rest of us.
The Rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer has never been truer than it is today!
Forgetting for a moment, the poorer countries where wealth inequality is extraordinary and the bottom of the pyramid is unimaginably huge. Instead take the case of America, which in everyone’s opinion is an advanced and wealthy nation. Truth is, top 1% of America’s wealthy elite control 40% of their nation’s wealth. You should check the video below to see the scale of this phenomenon.
The middle class is almost non-existent now. We might as well rename it the “temporary class.”
We aspire to reach the top, but in reality most of us are just a part of the vast bottom that is feeding the top!
Technology is wonderful, it really does help us to live better lives. It is good that most things are becoming automated, wonderful that we don’t have to work as hard anymore, but here is the catch:
How do we survive in a world where our worth is only determined by our last paycheck?
And if all the jobs are handled by technology, who will give us those checks? We have yet to figure out a way to live in this world without money. Somewhere this cycle of the world’s productive labor and capital going to the 1% has to be broken.
That reminds me of the famous line by Charles Bukowski:
“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6.30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so”
How in the hell did we end up here? I wonder too. It is high time we all started to talk about this. A global conversation. Until then, we shall continue to be willing and invisible participants in the mission to screw ourselves and our world over (and to what end? We already know the answer). We have done a pretty great job of it until now. It is high time we figured out newer (and BETTER) ways of living and surviving in this world that are not dependent on us working ourselves to death so that the 1%‘s kids can sit on golden toilet seats and have a servant wipe their asses with 600 thread count Egyptian cotton napkins. In the future we’re heading for, your kid won’t have a pot to piss in.
I hope Google has some ideas for that too. Maybe you have one. Let me know.
This is a guest post by New Delhi-based social media consultant, Kartik Dayanand.
Capitalism is like cigarettes by diomedes77, blogging at Daily Kos. Since this is so short and there’s no way to elegantly excerpt it, I’m posting the whole thing here with apologies to diomedes77. Something tells me that diomedes77 probably won’t mind seeing this message spread here, too:
And neither liberals, progressives or conservatives understand what that means.
The right wants their ciggies without filters. Liberals and progressives, OTOH, want to smoke, too, but they want filters in place. Even smart liberals and progressives, who seem to get that smoking is bad for you and why, don’t want to get rid of cigarettes. They just want to “contain” the damage they do. They can’t make the logical leap to ridding the planet of those ciggies entirely. They can’t seem to draw the logical inference that even filtered cigarettes cause cancer.
Conservatives and right-wing libertarians (propertarians) want their capitalism straight up, no mixer, no ice. Progressives and liberals want to add soda, pour it on the rocks, and drink a lot of water afterwards. But they still get drunk, just like righties, and their livers are still rotten.
No matter what we do to capitalism, no matter how we filter it or mix it with soda or pour it on the rocks, it’s never going to be anything more than an infernal machine to create economic apartheid and destroy the planet. Its very nature is to extract wealth and resources from the earth, workers and consumers and hoover it all up to the very top, thus forever creating massive inequality. Baked right into the system is theft—theft from workers, consumers and Nature itself. It’s very nature is irredeemably in conflict with the interests of the vast majority of humans and the planet itself.
It can not be “managed” or “filtered” or sustained. It must always expand, and its expansion means greater and greater instability, inequality and the destruction of our environment. It is nothing but a cancer, and its own “success” means the destruction of its host.
If the OWS movement is not “anti-capitalist” at its very core, then it is nothing but a movement to filter and manage and contain some of the damage fomented automatically by our economic system. If it is not in favor of an entirely new, structurally egalitarian economic system, then it might as well just call itself “The Third Way” or “No Labels” and be done with it.
Want to reverse the tide of inequality that has swept the world? Want to reverse the damage wrought on our environment, our seas, our land? Want to create a livable future for everyone? Then we must stop deluding ourselves that capitalism can be “fixed”. It is beyond redemption.
Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek poses some interesting questions in a new essay titled “The Violent Silence of a New Beginning,” which was prepared from the remarks he made at Occupy Wall Street on October 10th (video of that below).
This except from the full essay, which you can read at In These Times, discusses answering conservative’s hollow critiques of the OWS movement:
The direct conservative attacks are easy to answer.
Are the protests un-American? When conservative fundamentalists claim that America is a Christian nation, one should remember what Christianity is: the Holy Spirit, the free egalitarian community of believers united by love. It is the protesters who are the Holy Spirit, while on Wall Street pagans worship false idols.
Are the protesters violent? True, their very language may appear violent (occupation, and so on), but they are violent in the sense in which Mahatma Gandhi was violent. They are violent because they want to put a stop to the way things are done — –but what is this violence compared to the violence needed to sustain the smooth functioning of the global capitalist system?
The protesters are called “losers” — but the true losers are on Wall Street, bailed out by hundreds of billions of our money.
They are called socialists. But in the United States, there already is socialism for the rich.
They are accused of not respecting private property — but the Wall Street speculations that led to the crash of 2008 erased more hard-earned private property than if the protesters were to be destroying it night and day. Think of the tens of thousands of homes foreclosed.
They are not communists, if communism means the system that deservedly collapsed in 1990. The communists who are still in power run the world’s most ruthless capitalist system (China). The success of Chinese Communist-run capitalism is a sign that the marriage between capitalism and democracy is approaching a divorce.
The only sense in which the protesters are communists is that they care for the commons—the commons of nature, of knowledge—that are threatened by the system.
The protesters are dismissed as dreamers, but the true dreamers are those who think that things can go on indefinitely the way they are, just with some cosmetic changes.
The protesters are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare. They are not destroying anything. They are reacting to a system that is gradually destroying itself.
We all know the classic scene from cartoons: The cat reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is no ground under its feet; it starts to fall only when it looks down and notices the abyss. What the protesters are doing is reminding those in power to look down.
Read more of “The Violent Silence of a New Beginning” by Slavoj Žižek at In These Times
“I originally wanted to fly it over Washington, D.C., but learned that you can’t do that,” says the banker, who asked to remain anonymous for job security reasons [She revealed herself subsequently—RM]. “So I chose Wall Street instead, but didn’t specifically intend it to fly over S&P. I’m just a mother from St. Louis who feels the only reason we got downgraded was people in politics.”
A friend of the woman who flew the plane who requested anonymity spoke to the Observer by phone, confirming that her friend is in fact a single mother of two from St. Louis. We were told she is an investment banker (Fortune noted her as a “broker”) and as her friend explained to us, “she woke up pissed about everything in Washington, especially now with the downgrade.” She wanted to fly it over D.C. but she couldn’t because of the restricted airspace; her original intent wasn’t to fly the plane “at” Wall Street, per se.
“She’s not mad at S & P, she’s mad at Washington D.C. She called me up to have me talk her out of it, and of course, I didn’t,” her friend noted, “because I think it’s funnier than shit.” According to her friend, the woman “does not have a lot of discretionary cash as others are saying. She’s a single mother of two. She’s been working and paying taxes since she was 16 years old.”
Is she of any particular political persuasion? “Nope,” her friend notes. “Not really. It’s directed at Washington. The Republicans, Democrats, President. Not at S & P.” We noted—as we’ve heard from friends, colleagues, and sources that the banner is likely making quite a few people smile.
“I think she’d be happy to hear that. She can’t reveal herself because she doesn’t want to lose her job, obviously,” her friend noted, “but I think she’d be happy to hear that.”